Understanding Whooping Cough
cough is a contagious disease that affects the lungs. Caused by a
bacteria called "Bordetella pertussis", why it is also called
"pertussis", in 2013, about half of whooping cough cases were reported
in persons 11 years of age and older. The Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) estimates that many more whooping cough cases go
undiagnosed and unreported each year in the United States.
At first, whooping cough has the same symptoms as the average cold:
- Mild coughing
- Runny nose
- Low fever (below 102 F)
- Diarrhea (early on)
After about 7-10 days, the cough turns into “coughing spells” that end with a whooping sound as the person tries to breathe in air.
Because the cough is dry and doesn't produce mucus, these spells can last up to 1 minute. Most people with whooping cough have coughing spells, but not everyone.
Infants may not make the whooping sound or even cough, but they might gasp for air or try to catch their breath during these spells. Some may vomit.
About Whooping Cough Vaccination
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends a single dose of Tdap vaccine for people ages 11 and older who have not previously received Tdap.
The letters in Tdap stand for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. Pertussis is another name for whooping cough. The Tdap vaccine helps protect both adults and adolescents from all 3 of these diseases.
What's the difference between the Td, DTaP and Tdap vaccine?
Td: This vaccine helps protect against 2 diseases—tetanus and diphtheria. The CDC recommends tetanus and diphtheria boosters for adults every 10 years.
DTaP: This vaccine helps protect young children against tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis. It is recommended to be given as a 5-dose series, starting in infancy and completing between the ages of 4 and 6 years.
Tdap: This vaccine helps protect adults and adolescents against 3 diseases—tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis. If you have not received it already, a healthcare provider may replace your next Td vaccine with a Tdap. Unlike Td vaccines, which help prevent tetanus and diphtheria, Tdap vaccines help prevent pertussis (commonly known as whooping cough) as well as tetanus and diphtheria. The CDC recommends a single dose of Tdap vaccine for people ages 11 and older who have not previously received Tdap.
For more information, click here to read the NJ Department of Health's informational flyer.